Annual global stainless steel production for 2015 is estimated to have totalled just below 41.5 million tonnes. This is approximately 0.5 percent less than the all-time high figure, achieved in the previous year. MEPS predicts that worldwide output will increase by around 2 percent, in 2016, to a new peak figure of 42.3 million tonnes.

Production during the second half of 2015 fell slightly short of earlier predictions. The outturn in all of the traditional stainless steel making regions, with the exception of South Korea, was lower than in 2014. The rate of growth in China slowed but output from the countries classed as Others continued to expand strongly, reaching a total of more than 4.1 million tonnes.

After years of rapid development, Chinese production in 2015 is estimated to have fallen back, a little, from the previous year’s total. Following extensive capital investment, during the twenty-first century, production capacity far exceeds domestic consumption. Global demand is sluggish and several governments have imposed import tariffs on Chinese material. Consequently, some private steelmakers are withdrawing from stainless steel production and further closures of less efficient facilities are foreseen. Nevertheless, China continues to produce more than 50 percent of the world’s crude stainless steel. MEPS predicts a moderate, year-on-year, increase of around 1.7 percent in the country’s output for 2016.

Japan’s outturn in 2015 is estimated to have been just over 3 million tonnes, which is substantially lower than the previous year’s figure and represents a drop of around 25 percent from the all-time high achieved in 2006. However, we forecast that the outturn in 2016 will equate to a rise of more than 5 percent, year-on-year.

South Korea’s production grew strongly, by around 9 percent, year-on-year, in 2015. However, we do not anticipate any significant, further increase in the coming year.

Stainless steel output in Taiwan fell back, slightly, in the last twelve months. A small increase, of around 2.7 percent, compared with the previous year, is forecast for 2016.

Producers in the United States recorded a marginal decrease in output, in 2015 compared with the year earlier figure. A moderate recovery is predicted, in 2016, to a figure of around 2.4 million tonnes.

Despite applying antidumping duties to some imports from the Far East, European Union production slipped by around 2 percent, year-on-year, in 2015. MEPS expects output, this year, to return to around the 2014 figure, at 7.25 million tonnes.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – January Issue

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